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Agency for Healthcare Research Qualitywww.ahrq.gov

Taking Control: Non-surgical Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence in Women

What is urinary incontinence (UI)?

Image still from the video 'Taking Control - Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence in Women'

Taking Control
(5-minute video)

Click on the video above for an introduction to urinary incontinence and the features on this Web site.
(View video in a new window)

Image still from the video 'Are there other women like me? (The Baby Shower)'

Are there other women like me?
(8-minute video)

Urinary incontinence happens to women of all ages and races. Click on the video above to watch a scene in which women like you discuss this common problem.
(View video in a new window)

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a condition in which urine leaks by accident. Although both men and women can have UI, women get it twice as often as men. Millions of women all over the world, both young and old, experience UI. This decision aid is meant only for women. It does not cover treatments involving surgery.

There are two types of UI that are common in women:

  • Stress incontinence: You cannot "hold" your urine when coughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting something. The result is leaking or wetting.
  • Urgency incontinence: You often have a strong urge to urinate and cannot make it to the bathroom before your urine leaks.

Some women have both kinds of incontinence. This is called "mixed incontinence."

Having UI can affect how you feel about yourself. It can limit your ability to enjoy work or other activities. Untreated UI can lead to skin rashes and urinary tract infections. The good news is that many women are able to improve or completely stop their urine leaking with treatment.

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